Ontario University Students Win Federal Government’s CODE Appathon

Photo: Nicola Betts

It’s official: Tony Clement crowned two university students from the University of Waterloo-Stratford and the University of Guelph as the winners of the CODE, the first national appathon using federal government Open Data.

The winning team is Electric Sheep from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo. The team was awarded the $25,000 Grand Prize provided by contest sponsor OpenText Corporation – well-known for its support of Open Data in Canada. Electric Sheep also won the Fan Favourite Prize of $1000, as chosen by Canadians in an online poll.

The two member Electric Sheep team, Jason Ernst and Carlos Saavedra, developed the newRoots app using datasets from Employment and Social Development Canada, Statistics Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. NewRoots matches new Canadians with cities that will give them the greatest opportunity to maximize their potential and be successful, productive citizens of Canada.

“Competing in CODE was an amazing experience. We feel very encouraged by the vote of confidence from the judges and fan favourite voters, and are excited to move ahead with the business plan we presented in the pitch,” said Ernst and Saavedra. “We are committed to transforming lives and putting our stamp on the world, and we feel newRoots is an application that will get us started on this path.”

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  • The second place $5000 prize provided by XMG Studio went to Team Quantified from North York. Kevin Quan developed the A Healthier Commute app using datasets from Natural Resources Canada, and Statistics Canada. A Healthier Commute provides users with personalized and specific feedback about the costs of their daily commute to encourage people to consider ways to improve their trip to work.
  • The third place $1000 prize went to team SYLM from Markham. Sunny Mak developed the Deep Breath app using datasets from Environment Canada. Deep Breath displays air quality data from local monitoring stations and nearby large facilities emitting pollutants for given locations.
  • The top three teams were selected from 15 finalists, from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.

At the CODE Grand Finale on March 28, finalists presented their apps to a panel of industry professionals and venture capitalists during a live judging event. Judges voted on the app they felt best demonstrated innovative concept, art and design, usefulness, use of open data, and stability.

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Clement, the president of the Treasury Board, said “the event showcased some of our great Canadian talent, and these apps demonstrate how we can unlock the potential of Open Data.”

“What a great competition – every app was a winner and merits further development,” said former CBC Dragons’ Den cast member and current host on ABC’s Shark Tank, Robert Herjavec. “It was incredible that these apps, the thinking and linkage to the Open Data could be done in just 48 hours. Canada is a hotbed of talent – watch out world!”

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.